Breast implant patients should be warned of rare cancer risk before surgery

Posted: 11/04/2016


It is important that all women considering any type of breast implant surgery are informed of the risk of a rare but serious type of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). They should also be counselled on the signs and symptoms of this breast implant associated cancer and should be made aware of when to take action. 

Although ALCL is extremely rare, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about a possible link between breast implants and ALCL in 2011. Based on information gathered by the FDA between August 2010 and September 2015, their current estimate is that there have been 100-250 known cases of ALCL in women with breast implants worldwide.  

While the true rate of breast implant associated ALCL is unknown, the risk of developing the cancer is at least 18 times higher than in women without implants. 

ALCL is often difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are non-specific and can vary from person to person. This can often lead to cases of late diagnosis. 

The more common symptoms include a spontaneous fluid collection in the breast, developing many months or years after receiving a breast implant, and redness and swelling of the breast around an implant that is not from an infection. 

Other less common symptoms are tenderness and contraction of the scar tissue capsule surrounding the breast implant. If left untreated, patients can develop a firm distinct mass in their breast. 

Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP, said: “While there are still significant knowledge gaps in the association between ALCL and breast implants, we believe that patients should be made aware of the existence of this rare cancer and use the available information to make an informed decision when considering breast implants. 

“More importantly, the topic of implant associated ALCL should be discussed with the patient to ensure that they are aware of the signs and symptoms. It is clear from the evidence that early diagnosis and treatment leads to a better prognosis. Surgeons should be encouraged to make patients aware of the existence of this rare cancer and the most important things to look out for.”

Click here to read the full article on ALCL.


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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP